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The Stetson volleyball team dropped its Atlantic Sun Conference opener 3-1 (25-17, 19-25, 25-21, 25-17) to host Mercer Friday night at Hawkins Arena in Macon, Ga.

For the fourth straight match the Hatters (3-14, 0-1 A-Sun) posted more kills than their opponent.  On Friday Stetson’s kill advantage over the Bears (6-6, 2-0 A-Sun) was 46-44, but the Hatters could not overcome 29 attack errors and 12 service errors.

“We came out a bit flat, I think we were intimidated by the crowd,” Stetson head coach Tim Loesch said.  “I was pretty happy with how we played in sets two and three, we competed well and did some good things.  I would like to see us play like that all the time.  We did not play as aggressively as we needed to in game four.”

Kaley Melville recorded 14 kills and a career-high 24 digs to lead the Hatters.  Ellen Hawks tallied 10 kills and five blocks, while Cailyn Prewitt chipped in nine kills on 27 attempts.  Kelli Carneal tallied 18 assists and a career-high 18 digs, while Monique Russell picked up 17 digs.

“I thought Kaley Melville had a pretty good day for us.  Cailyn Prewitt and Ellen Hawks also did some good things for us.  We’ll get two or three kids playing well one day, and then a different two or three the next day, but we can’t seem to get six playing well on the same day.”

After a seesaw start to the first set, Mercer used a 6-1 run midway through the frame to build a 16-10 lead.  Despite finishing with a 12-10 advantage in kills, the Hatters could not make a late run and fell behind 1-0 in the match.

Stetson came out on fire in the second set, getting a nice six-point service run from Samantha Freeman to grab an early 10-3 lead.  The Hatters extended the lead to 10 points (18-8) before the Bears fought back and cut the deficit all the way down to two at 20-18.   Hawks stepped up with a pair of kills and a pair of blocks down the stretch as Stetson held on to win the set and tie the match 1-1.

Set three proved to be the tightest of the night with the frame featuring 12 ties and six lead changes.  With the score tied for the final time at 19-19, the Bears went on a 6-2 run to gain a 2-1 lead in the match.

Mercer carried that momentum into the fourth set, and an early 7-0 run gave the Bears a lead they would not relinquish. 

Defensively Stetson finished with eight blocks and 86 digs, just one dig shy of its season high.

The Hatters will look to rebound on Saturday as the road trip concludes with a 3 p.m. match at Kennesaw State.


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